“WAKE UP HON! COME ON!! YOU GOTTA WAKE UP! There’s something wrong and we have to get out.”
I was 6 months pregnant with my first child and I was hoping to enjoy sleeping in a bit on a rainy Sunday morning.
But at 7 am my husband shook me away, anxious and worried.
Our carbon monoxide detector was loudly ringing.
The odourless toxic gas was building up in our home.
Unsure of what to do we opened all the windows and called the fire department.
We were told to get out of the house immediately!! But strangely we were told to shut all the windows first.
As I sat in the car in my pj’s my husband ran around the house closing all the windows we just opened.
It was within minutes that I heard the sound of the fire trucks coming from a few short miles away.
They rolled up to our house, sirens ringing, waking all the other neighbours up. They assessed my oxygen levels and walked up to our home with a meter of some kind.
Before entering our home they measured the levels of gas outside of our door. Within seconds all the firefighters did a quick turn and suited up with full suits and gas masks.
Levels were the highest they have seen.
As I sat in the truck watching the firefighters unwilling to go into my home that I just left without full gear (!!!) I was scared and grateful that we were not killed in our sleep, a tragedy well known in our community.
How close was I from dying?
Is my baby still forming inside me going to be okay?
Without that alarm system, we would have never known that an odourless toxic gas was building up in our home.
That small $10 alarm saved our lives.
Stress is commonly referred to as “the silent killer”.
It slowly builds up in our day-to-day life and its impact is felt physically, mentally and in our behaviour.
And to make matters worse, we commonly shrug off stress as “just apart of life” or “all in a day’s work”, don’t we?
Stress has become so normal that the times without stress feel almost awkward and strange.
If we are not completely depleted at the end of the day, then we didn’t work hard enough.
I’ve heard comments like these before:
“I’m horrible at self-care, always maxed out and overloaded with responsibilities and I can’t find the time to think, let alone consider my well-being.”
“I feel stressed, overwhelmed and tired of the weekly grind. I need a break, but feel guilty and have to give the appearance that everything is great.”
The toxic gas builds up.
And it’s not until the alarm bell starts ringing that we take time to consider our stress.
Major physical issues like heart attacks, failed marriages and relationships and mental breakdowns are like alarms.
And even then we don’t see these issues as a result of stress.
We see them as personal failings.
What if I told you that we have access to a stress meter that could tell us when our stress levels are building up and send us a warning before we are hurt or have tragic outcomes?
This is called identifying our triggers and knowing our warning signs.
Triggers are external events or circumstances that produce uncomfortable emotional reactions.
They are often linked to a past negative experience or situations that cause stress and feelings of overwhelm.
Triggers can be someone questioning your intentions and your authority or working with people who lost a loved one.
Both of these examples can cause an emotional reaction (frustration and grief) and can be linked to our past experiences.
Maybe for you, it’s checking your voicemail or emails. If these activities produce stress and overwhelm then they can be considered a trigger for you.
Once you can identify your triggers then you are able to DO something about them.
Triggers are like the $10 alarm that saved my life.
It signalled to me that something was wrong and I was able to do something about it.
When the firefighters measured the levels they were assessing the severity of the carbon monoxide.
This is self-assessment.
And it can be done with the green, yellow and red scale.
Check out this blog to learn more about the scale and how you can do a simple scan to identify where you are at with your stress levels.
As you go about your day I encourage you to notice when you are triggered and when you have a negative reaction to a situation or circumstance.